MLK Day 2024: NBA honoring the holiday with slate of games, events

FILE-Phoenix Suns players stand on the court during the National Anthem before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies wearing Honor King shirts on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day at FedExForum on January 16, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Justi

The NBA is celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with games and events held by several teams.

Eleven NBA games are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 15, including the traditional home games in the civil rights leader’s hometown of Atlanta and Memphis, where he died at the age of 39. 

The league’s tradition of playing games on MLK Day dates back to 1986 when the holiday was first observed– with the only exception being the 1998-99 season, which did not begin until Feb. 5, after the holiday had passed, according to 

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During that time, there have been a total of 367 NBA games played on the holiday, not counting the upcoming contests on Jan. 15. 

NBA MLK Day schedule

  • Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers: 1 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks: 2:30 p.m. ET
  • Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks: 3 p.m. ET
  • Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards: 3 p.m. ET
  • San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks: 3:30 p.m. ET (TNT) 
  • Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 6 p.m. ET (TNT) 
  • Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: 7 p.m. ET
  • Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Indiana Pacers vs. Utah Jazz: 9 p.m. ET
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers: 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV) 

A few teams playing on MLK Day will celebrate with ceremonies before and during their games. 

The Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County are hosting the 22nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game on Monday, Jan. 15. The events are in an effort to continue the conversations with the Memphis community and Mid-South youth to Remember, Celebrate and Act on Dr. King‘s legacy.

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In Atlanta, Hawks players and staff will join teams throughout the league in wearing special MLK shooting shirts that feature a quote from Dr. King. During halftime of their game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Hawks will have Grammy-winning rapper Killer Mike perform a musical tribute to honor King's legacy. 

And the Washington Wizards will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy with several events. Before their game against the Detroit Pistons, Wizards players will wear a shooting shirt featuring Dr. King’s message that "the time is always right to do what is right." 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.